I was speaking to an art dealer yesterday who was explaining that art galleries are closing all across North America: “Only wealthy investors are buying art at auction these days, galleries can’t make a go of it. Young people are all about the internet, they have no interest in art,” she said.
“They can’t afford it”, I replied.
In the conversation that followed, I explained how the credit bubble had enabled boomers to buy multiple large homes and fill them with a record number of things, including art. But now their walls are full and they want to downsize–not increase their ‘stuff’– and they have a problem: a shortage of able buyers.
Young people are struggling with massive student debt, zero savings and poor job opportunity, most are struggling to pay rent, never mind buy art. This is a problem for them; but it’s also a problem for all of us who are hoping to downsize present holdings and overhead (real estate, vehicles, securities, collectibles, insurance, maintenance…you name it) and raise cash. Who will buy?
Until we get younger people out of debt and earning a life-supporting income, this issue will continue to hold back the economy, close traditional businesses and reduce prices for every asset type. We are all in this together, whether we realize it or not. See this excellent article for more detail: Generation screwed: millennials’ scary financial future.
I also highly recommend Muhammad Yunus’s latest book “A World of Three Zeros: The new economics of zero poverty, zero unemployment and zero net carbon emissions” for some fresh thinking on how to get young people, and our weak economy, up and out of current quagmires.